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Shenandoah chamber receives $10K Autumnfest grant

Mike Orsenigo of Charlotte, N.C., and Craig George, right, of Woodstock, prepare several slabs of baby back ribs for judges during the barbecue competition at the 2012 Autumnfest. Rich Cooley/Daily (Buy photo)

By Ryan Cornell

The Shenandoah County Chamber of Commerce recently received a $10,000 grant for the Autumnfest event it will be hosting in October.

Awarded by the Virginia Tourism Corporation's Marketing Leverage Grant Fund program, the grants were given to 54 tourism marketing projects across Virginia and total nearly $1 million.

A minimum of three entities -- such as museums, attractions and private businesses -- were required to partner financially to apply for the grant.

Chamber of Commerce President Wade Zirkle said the chamber partnered with the Shenandoah County Fair, Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail, Shenandoah County Tourism and Shenandoah Caverns for consideration of the grant.

He said the five entities will also match the grant with an additional $10,000 in Autumnfest funds.

The funds will go toward marketing the festival. Zirkle said the $20,000 sum will be used for radio, print and web advertising as well as plastic signage, comparable in size to those of political campaigns.

The festival helps bring more tourism dollars to local businesses by showcasing the county's culture, food and music, said Zirkle, who added that Shenandoah in the fall is "one of the most beautiful places on Earth."

"We've had really strong attendance each year and our reputation is growing," he said. "This is our third year and we want to build on our previous successes and make it even bigger and better."

Held at the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds on Saturday, Oct. 19, Autumnfest will feature a barbecue competition sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society, a chainsaw carving competition by local artists, live music and tasting of barbecue and Virginia wine.

This year marks the first Golden Axe competition at Autumnfest. The competition pits the eight best wood splitters in Shenandoah County to see who can split wood the fastest.

"I think the fact that we won this grant is a testament to how big the festival has become," Zirkle said. "Two years ago it was a concept, and now it's an event garnering attention statewide and talked about by the governor."

Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rcornell@nvdaily.com

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